I’ve struggled in a major way with the friends that shared the same due dates as me. I continue to struggle with other friends as they all have babies and I continue to suffer and wait.
About a year ago, I wrote a letter to three of these friends. I’m thinking I need to send the same letter to some other friends. I need them to understand, but trying to think of what to say gets me so upset. It’s so hard to explain how I feel without coming across as an awful human being.
Here is the template I used to write my first series of letters. I changed the details and some of the boundaries that applied to my situation but the overall template worked really well.
I got the letter from “Creating Families” magazine. This was from an article written by Sherry Dale in the Fall 2009 Issue.
Dear Friends and Family,
We are writing this letter to let you know how we are doing and a bit about what we’re going through. Many of you know that for three years, we have been trying to start a family. We have been seeing a fertility specialist and have had many tests and some treatments, one of which resulted in a pregnancy that we lost at eight weeks. Further treatments have not (yet!) been successful. We are continuing treatment.
Our counsellor tells us that it’s quite common for an infertile couple to need to “cocoon” sometimes, and avoid certain events. You may see us less than you’re used to at these gatherings over the next few months. If we do attend, we might leave early. Sometimes these events are just too painful, and other times we may just be exhausted from early morning trips to the clinic or the fertility medications and procedures. Please continue to invite us, but know we may decline. Please don’t take our absence personally! We love you, and we love your children, and we look forward to long, warm relationships with you and the kids. We won’t always need this kind of space…but right now, we do. We will be back!
Some of you have asked what you can do, how you can help us during this difficult time. We are so blessed to have such caring friends and family! It’s not an easy question to answer, as sometimes we’ll feel pretty OK, and other times (just after a treatment cycle has not worked, for instance), we may be devastated, and what we need at those times will be different. Sometimes we just need to feel “normal” and not talk about the infertility, and other times, we may need to share with you how upset we are. If you’re not sure, it would be fine if you just ask directly, “What do you need from me right now?”
Generally, it would be most helpful for us if you wait for us to bring up the topic. If we tell you that we’ve had more bad news, what feels the most supportive is to hear you say something like, “I’m so sorry you’re going through this,” or just say nothing and give us a hug. If you become pregnant, we will be SO happy for you – and it would be easiest to hear your joyful news via email (because Cheryl might cry!). We want to share your happiness, but it can make us feel sad for what we don’t yet have and yearn for so much.
If you are having an uncomfortable pregnancy, it’s probably best for you to share those difficulties with other pregnant friends and not us (at this point, anyway). Sometimes, the man in the infertile couple can feel left out. It would be wonderful if you sometimes ask Doug how he’s doing.
We are seeing a doctor we trust. If you have friends or relatives who have had success with certain doctors or treatments, or who have adopted, it would be best for us if you keep that information to yourselves, as we are confident that our medical team is helping us do all we can. Since nobody can know the outcome of this struggle, it would be good if you refrain from saying things like, “I just know it will happen for you!” or the dreaded, “Just relax and it will happen!” While we love a good joke, our infertility is a topic we will never find funny, so joking about it is not a good idea. There are some good articles for friends and family of infertility patients at www.resolve.org.
If you have any questions, please feel free to ask either of us, or send us an email. It won’t make us feel worse if you talk to us about our struggle. It would be best to talk to us in private, in person or by email or phone, as it will embarrass us if we get upset in a restaurant or at the mall! We are so lucky to have a support system like you, and we hope this letter explains somewhat the situation we are in and how you can help us. Your love and support are treasured more than you know.
Thank you so much for caring for us and for being the type of loved ones that we can write a letter like this to!
Cheryl and Doug
It’s probably time for me to write a follow-up letter. I’m struggling with that right now. It’s hard to say that even a year later that I’m still not ready. It’s impossible to predict how long this will go on. I”ll post a “Volume Two” once (if I ever) I craft the letter.